What the London Olympics Will Teach Us About SustainabilityJuly 25, 2012
Momentum can be defined as "mass in motion." All objects have mass; so if an object is moving, then it has momentum - it has its mass in motion. The amount of momentum that an object has is dependent upon two variables: how much stuff is moving and how fast the stuff is moving. Momentum depends upon the variables mass and velocity. In terms of an equation, the momentum of an object is equal to the mass of the object times the velocity of the object. (Courtesy of the Physics Classroom)
We’ll see a lot of momentum during the Summer Olympics where athletes will leave us breathless and thrilled at their superior feats of skill, strength, and endurance—the results of effort, determination, and commitment. There’s another kind of momentum building in London that will be on view for the world and visitors to see, and I hope it will fuel our hearts and minds with what’s possible. I’m talking about London 2012’s Towards a One Planet 2012, which embodies a vision for the first truly sustainable Olympics and Paralympics Games. The London 2012 website states, “We recognise that with over four billion people watching and over 200 countries involved, the Games are an unrivalled catalyst for sustainable change.”
Sustainability principles were applied to the four major aspects of the Games: venues, travel, food and waste. Where possible, existing venues, e.g. Wimbledon, will be used. Where a need existed for a venue site after the Olympics, new structures were constructed according to green building standards. And temporary structures that can be taken down and re-used elsewhere or refabricated were erected for some competitions, e.g. the Basketball Arena.
London’s transport system, already one of the best in the world, has been ramped up to accommodate the influx of visitors. Green designated hotels are featured on London’s Official Guide. Key walking and cycling paths have been improved and integrated with other modes of transport to ensure trips can be easily combined.
Fourteen million meals, including 82 tons of sustainable seafood, will be served over the course of the games. Olympic planners have made local sourcing a priority and all foods will be sourced with as low an environmental impact as possible. Meals will be served in compostable containers.
Recycling and waste management has been planned down to clear labels for compostable, recyclable, and non-recyclable items. Plastic bottles will be remade into new bottles in six weeks. Nothing will be sent to the landfill, and all waste will be used to create electrical energy.
Read all the truly interesting and exciting details on London’s Olympic website sustainability pages. Few of us will ever be involved in incorporating sustainability planning as a key component in any event as complex or massive as an Olympics. But we can be as determined and committed as an athlete and as London’s Olympic committee has been to ensure that plans for meetings, conferences and our facilities adhere to principles that will minimize waste, promote conservation, reduce energy consumption, and encourage transportation alternatives to driving. The momentum for lasting change is growing, and London’s showing the world how it’s done.